Skip to main content

Full text of "My country and my people"

See other formats

THE    CHINESE    MIND                     87
Nicolaus Longobardi, and finding that in the book the heart is placed on the left and the liver on the right, decided that Westerners have different internal organs from the Chinese, and deduced therefrom the important conclusion that since their internal organs are different, therefore their religion must be also different—this deduction is in itself a perfect example of intuitive reasoning—and hence only Chinese whose internal organs are imperfect could possibly become Christian converts. The erudite scholar slyly remarked that if the Jesuits only knew this fact they would not be interested in preaching Christianity in China and in making converts of half-normal beings.
Such assertions are made in perfect seriousness and in fact are typical of Chinese "intuition" in the realms of natural science and human physiology. One begins to believe that there is something after all in the scientific method, for with this method, though one might be seriously concerned in the findings that the "primary function of sugar [in the manufacture of ice-cream] is to sweeten it," yet one could be saved from the other sort of puerile thinking represented by the author of the above Notebooks. He could at least have felt the palpitation of his heart by his own hand, but evidently the Chinese scholar never descended to manual labour.*
Free thus from stupid drudgery in the use of his eyes and his hands, and having a naive faith in the power of his "intuition," the Chinese scholar goes about explaining the mysteries of the human body and the universe to his own satisfaction. The whole science of Chinese medicine and physiology is based on the Taoistic philosophy of the Five Elements— Gold, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. The human body is in itself a symbol of the universe in its composition. The kidneys represent the water element, the stomach represents the earth element, the liver represents the fire element, the lungs represent the gold element and the heart represents the wood element. Not that this medicine does not work in practice. A man suffering from high blood-pressure is considered to have too warm a "liver-fire," while a man suffering from indigestion may be referred to as having too much earth, and a laxative is used to encourage the function of the kidneys by way of